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Thu, Jan. 1st, 2009, 07:45 am

Looking back on it, 2008 didn't actually, totally, suck.

- We all have our health.  Sure, Alex & I are both sick with a nasty cold right now, but that doesn't count.  Nobody in our extended families died in 2008 (even the grandfather who was given a couple of months to live at the beginning of the year).  Alex & Robert both had Chicken Pox, but they were mild cases & neither of them will ever have to go through that again (Alex got very excited about that part).

- Our family bond, in spite of those who would threaten to tear it apart, is intact.

- We are not poor.  Self-inflicted financial problems aside, we are in no danger of losing our home, cars, or lifestyle as so many people out there are.  I got a promotion to VP this year, which made 2008 (and especially 2009) a very, very good from a financial perspective.  We may actually be able to afford school for the kids this fall. 

Also, my company just moved into new office space that gives us (and especially the guy I hired last year) much more space that is just better organized than the old space was.  We'd been there for a decade or so, and it's amazing how much crap accumulates in an office when you aren't looking, you know?  With any luck, managing my employee will be much more productive this year.  He had a bad attendance problem last year, and nobody could blame him because, honestly, his work environment sucked (closets are not offices no matter what our company's previous owners said).  

- Our hopes for the future are high.  Obama has made it cool to be an American again, and circumstances are conspiring in our favor for the coming year. 

I took a big chance last night using glassware for the toast (though much thicker stemware than we used last year), and nothing broke this time.  Just a pop, a splash, a swig, and a kiss to what we're hoping will be an exciting, positive new year.

Happy New Year to you all!

Thu, Jan. 17th, 2008, 12:21 pm

For Christmas, my company indirectly got me a cute little gizmo, a keychain bluetooth GPS receiver. An amazing little device that communcates with my Treo to tell me exactly where I am.

This is ironic because where I am right now is exactly where I don't want to be.

Tue, Jan. 15th, 2008, 11:17 am

Somewhere, in one of those Murphy's Law-type books, I read this little gem:

Flugle's Law: The moment you need to knock on wood is the moment you realize that the world is made of steel and acrylic.

After yesterday's entry, it turns out that this was the moment he was talking about.

Recall, if you will, four and a half years ago when Alex broke is left leg. He was jumping on the bed, Pam went to stop him, he lost his balance, fell on the bed the wrong way, snapped the femur in two.

Last night, Alex and Robert were jumping from the headboard onto the bed while Pam & I were each elsewhere getting ready to join them when Alex landed wrong on one of his jumps. This time, he broke the right leg. Not nearly as bad as last time, below the knee, they call it a "buckle fracture". Still, it meant another midnight ER run, x-rays, six weeks in a cast, orthopedist, etc. At least he's toilet trained and totally verbal this time.

This was coupled with whatever is messing up Robert's digestive system that made him toss up earlier in the evening and other stuff this morning. Fortunately, he was right as rain for the ER visit. Go fig.

At one point, I started in with "Five Little Monkeys", and got a look that could fell a rhino at 40 yards. Not that I didn't deserve it, I know...:)

Mon, Jan. 14th, 2008, 04:26 pm
I just do eyes!

I have eyes again! A big box full of contact lenses came in the mail over the weekend, which means I get to fence comfortably, wear sunglasses, and generally look like what I think I look like again!

The year is off to a good start, though things will be much better when a few accounts receivable start being received. And I hire my new person. And I get that promotion. And I wrap up the three programs I'm currently working on. And the paint-strip stuff comes in the mail so that I can repaint the futon frame in my office. And we build the kids' bunkbed. And we clean up the house. And I get a new coffee mug. And Valve restocks their Aperture Science coffee mugs and Weighted Companion Cubes. And...

hm...well, as I said, the year's off to a good start.

Wed, Jan. 9th, 2008, 10:04 pm
Banana Peppers

The year is only nine days old, and I've been simultaneously shaking up my routine and coming back to parts of my routine that I 've let fall by the wayside:

- After over a year away from it, I went to a refresher fencing lesson tonight. The teacher is very different from the one I had before, so in effect he's teaching me a totally new style. Hopefully, I'll be able to get over my old habits more quickly that way.

- I actually sat down with my work-from-home tester after not seeing her in person for several months.

- My office is done and things are back the way they are supposed to be. I'm also going to strip, sand, and paint the futon frame propped up against the wall and turn this into a proper guest room.

- I left my French press coffee mug, the big one from Porter Products, on the train last Tuesday morning, the first day back at work. Figures. L&F is no help, either.

- And I've switched from jalapenos on my SubWay subs to banana peppers. It turns out I like them better, anyway.

Next step is to go back to the gym enough that my body actually gets used to being exercised and get our financial situation back on track. Neither of these is going to be easy.

Tue, Jan. 1st, 2008, 05:20 pm
Happy New Year!

I'm ready for 2008.

Well, checkuary has come again (not that I use checks much anymore), and I'm ready to go back to work. We stayed home last night, killed a bottle of sparkling cider and a bottle of good champagne, and generally had a good time. However, we (at least) are on notice for the year as my champagne flute tipped over and broke just as the magic moment happened. I won't repeat my well justified superstition about breaking glass here, but the good thing for me to remember is that, every time breaking glass has foreshadowed something, it's ultimately been a good thing. Ultimately.

Meanwhile, my office is green. the kids' room is yellow. I love our paint, SafeCoat, which is really easy to work with if hard to get (we have to drive up to Waukesha, WI to get it!) I don't have much painting experience, but what I do know tells me that it's good. Plus, it's non-toxic & low odor...in fact, I'm sitting in my office typing, while the paint is still drying and the door is closed, and I can barely tell that it was just painted. It just smells "clean".

Fri, Dec. 28th, 2007, 12:04 pm
Rumors of my Death

...have been somewhat exaggerated, as the saying goes. Still, I honestly can't believe that I've let my LJ go for 8 months.

Excuse me while I try to recap the year thus far, in no particular order:

- We got a new dog, (Fleecy) Jack, another Pom with a much quieter disposition than Bubble's. He was a rescue from a puppy mill which means that he was quite neglected except where it came to his reproductive parts. For example, the rescue folks had to just take out all of his teeth, they were in such bad shape. He's an adorable little thing.

- I did not go to Nuremberg. One of these days, maybe, but not today.

- I turned 36.

- Shortly thereafter, I realized that I've had a hernia for the past year and a half, which explains a lot of my stomach problems over that time. The mid-November surgery went much more smoothly than my last encounter with the knife since it was all laparoscopic (three little holes, one for the camera and two for the canula.) A nice speedy three-week recovery, punctuated by throwing my back out two weeks into it. It still hurts some. So basically, some part of my mid-section has been hurting consistently since early 2006. When all of this is over, I think I'm going to break my arm just for the novelty of it.

- I rearranged our house so that my office is now upstairs where the kids' room used to be, the storage room is where my office used to be, and the kids' room is now where the storage used to be (or will be once we finish painting it this weekend.)

- My boss retired and the other person in my department quit (when she found out I would be her new manager), so I'm left with a department to create essentially from scratch. So far, the C-suite likes the fact that I got the department. They like it a lot.

- Alex turned 7, Robert turned 4. Alex is in sort-of kindergarten, Robert is in sort-of pre-school (the school calls them the same thing, just Alex goes five-day and Robert only goes two-day.) They both like school, though mornings are still tough from time to time.

- I've been to NY at least four times. I've lost count, really.

- I've finished Portal, HL2, and HL2e1. HL2e2 possibly by year end, time permitting. Alex wants a stuffed weighted companion cube. I want an aperture labs parking permit (to go along with my WWWA window decal.) I do not have a console, nor have I gotten Halo 1, 2, or 3. I want StarCraft 2.

- They also love Doctor Who, but I wish that either Terry Nation hadn't put the Daleks' eyes on long thin stalks or that the toy company that makes the Daleks would make their appendages out of metal instead of plastic. I mean, what are they thinking!?

- I've impersonated a Stormtrooper on-stage with Weird Al, dancing to "The Saga Begins". Afterward, the rest of the crew brought up pictures, CDs, and whatnot, but I brought up a toy light-saber for him to sign. Joining the 501st appears to be just a matter of time and money at this point.

- I woke up this morning feeling...different. Refreshed, somehow, not sure why, but definitely in the mood to start blogging again.

It's snowing outside suddenly, and Pam has that look in her eye that says, "I wanna try that new toboggan I got us for Christmas!" There's a ski-hill around the corner (did I mention that we live in the town with the only ski jump in the state of Illinois?), which scared the hell out of Alex but the prospect of taking that thing down it is just...wow.

It's been a great year. Terrible in parts, but great. I know I'm forgetting stuff, so I'm guessing that I'll be writing more in the very near future.

Fri, Apr. 20th, 2007, 09:30 pm

Oh, and by the way, apparently, the folks who made Bubbles' food have offered to pay for all of Bubbles' and Daisy's medical expenses, assuming that they find melamine in the cans of food we send them. Looking at the medical records (they want those also), I can't imagine that they won't find the food riddled with the stuff.

Fri, Apr. 20th, 2007, 07:44 am

There are always little things to blog, like the fact that Daisy has all but fully recovered from her spinal disaster and that I'm going to Nuremberg in July (!<(.)^(.)>!) and possibly Budapest and Amsterdam while I'm in the area.

Occasionally, something breaks the surface tension. Something like the end of an era, for instance.

I remember riding my bike, an hour or so each way on the path that ran beside the Contra Costa canal, to Centurion Military Hobbies in Walnut Creek, CA, to pick up the new Drag-Mag (and whatever new D&D or Traveller stuff caught my eye). I'd bask in the geekdom of the gaming-half of the store (the other half was dedicated to ex-military paraphenalia), and enjoy my freedom to disappear for hours at a time.

No, Alex & Robert, you may not do this. My parents were crazy. Your parents are not.

Mon, Mar. 19th, 2007, 03:10 pm

"We never gave up on you, and we still haven't..."

Those were some of the last words I said to Bubbles before we let him go.

A month later, we discover that the food we've been giving him may be the cause of kidney failure in dogs & cats across the country. All of the symptoms they've been talking about, Bubbles had. True, he was almost 18 years old, but a month before we let him go, his kidney numbers were "surprisingly good for a dog of his age".

We're keeping a sealed can and we've contacted the FDA to get on their complaint list.

Menufoods of Ontario, Canada has a problem that is far worse than just paying to refund a few million cans of food. The word is out that if you're feeding them canned food, unless you feed your dog or cat a micro-brand, you're buying into a massive monoculture. All of the brands that Menufoods supplied have sulfurous egg on their faces over this, and I suspect a number of them will be disappearing from the shelves shortly.

I feel disappointed and betrayed, and filled with hindsight shame because we switched him from Nature's Recipe not all that long ago. Still, however we feel about what's happened, we know we aren't alone: Their claim of 10 animals dying is a gross underestimate from the looks of the discussion boards out there.

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